From Tue Apr 22 14:38:07 2003 Return-Path: Delivered-To: Received: (qmail 79231 invoked by uid 19068); 22 Apr 2003 14:38:05 -0000 Received: from unknown (HELO ([]) (envelope-sender ) by (qmail-ldap-1.03) with SMTP for ; 22 Apr 2003 14:38:05 -0000 Received: from [] by with ESMTP (SMTPD32-7.15) id A5CFF100D6; Tue, 22 Apr 2003 14:38:23 +0100 From: "Wednesday Nite Poker" To: Subject: WSOP 2003 News Bulletin 4 Date: 22 Apr 2003 15:48:09 +0200 Message-ID: <> MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="----=_mxdYWx3I_tRjqGXIQ_MA" Precedence: bulk Sender: X-Spam-Status: No, hits=-4.3 required=4.5 tests=BAYES_10,HTML_10_20,HTML_WITH_BGCOLOR,SMTPD_IN_RCVD, UNSUB_PAGE version=2.53 X-Spam-Level: X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 2.53 ( Status: OR ------=_mxdYWx3I_tRjqGXIQ_MA Content-Type: text/plain Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit If this newsletter does not read properly, your current e-mail program does not support HTML-based newsletters. Instead, you can access the complete newsletter through your web browser on this URL: Regards, Wednesday Nite Poker ------=_mxdYWx3I_tRjqGXIQ_MA Content-Type: text/html Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit

"The Two Kings of Easter Sunday"

By Andrew N.S. Glazer, "The Poker Pundit"

Even though I try to make the reporting objective, it’s almost impossible not to root for one’s friends when covering a final table.

For that reason, if you had told me that as we were reaching the conclusion of the April 20 2003 WSOP No-Limit event, I’d be ambivalent about who might win, even though one of the competitors was someone I have known and liked for a long time, I’d have figured you ripe for some easy proposition bets, starting with that one.

It turns out I’d have been the sucker there, because our final few were so gentlemanly and gamely competitive that I found myself unable to pull for any one of them. I decided I’d just root for a well played match where no one suffered any cruel defeats.

I got one out of two, and since it was a well-played match, it’s pretty easy to figure out that there were a few cruel ones along the way.

Play didn’t start at 2:00 pm. Because of the new “play only 12 levels the first day” rule, we still had 14 players left when play resumed, and it wasn’t until about 3:00 pm that the final table was set:

Seat Player Chip Count
1 Mike Sexton $75,500
2 Steve Rogowski $113,000
3 Guy Calvert $67,000
4 Jim Meehan $60,000
5 Kathy Liebert $65,500
6 Antonio Esfandiari $121,000
7 Percy Regimbol $76,000
8 Dr. Bruce Van Horn $54,000
9 Chris Tsiprailidis $19,500
10 Juha Helppi $163,000

If you’re good at math and like to check these sorts of things, you’ll notice that the chips in play added up to $414,500, which is about what you’d expect with 207 entrants and a few odd dollars added from blinded off empty stacks, chip ups and race offs. However, as it grew late in the tournament and we did a careful chip count, we discovered that there were $430,000 chips on the table.


While conventional paranoia would have indicated something fishy, I think conventional human error is more likely. It would have been awfully hard for someone to sneak extra chips onto a table not only closely watched but being taped.

The much more likely explanation is that an error was made as the $500 chips were being taken out of play and that somehow someone received three $5,000 chips he wasn’t entitled to (although it could have been three people at $5,000 each, that would have meant three errors and one is more likely). Officials are going to be more careful about this in future events.

Leaving behind uncomfortable but not-to-be-buried-or-ignored subjects, as is becoming more and more the case at the World Series each year (especially so in the no-limit and pot limit events), the table had a most international flavor:

  • Sexton is an American, even if he did graduate from Ohio State, who spends most of the time in Europe.
  • Rogowski is from Colorado but gave us one moment that convinced us he was from “The Twilight Zone.”
  • Calvert is from Sidney, Australia, although he has lived and worked in New York the last five years.
  • Meehan is from Minneapolis, currently lives in Las Vegas, and acted today as he usually acts, which is like he’s from outer space.
  • Liebert, who has probably had to endure many situations where she was the token female, today served as the token “all-American.”
  • Esfandiari listed his address on the official bio sheet as “City, San Jose; State, California; and Country, Iran,” which would certainly confuse the post office folks a bit.
  • Regimbol is from Welland (Ontario), Canada.
  • Van Horn is from Ada, Oklahoma. I used to be engaged to someone from Ada, Oklahoma, and visited there once for Thanksgiving. Trust me, Ada, Oklahoma is another country.
  • Tsiprailidis, who is usually called “Syracuse Chris” because many people can’t spell or pronounce his last name (I’m not sure why they have trouble, but most of the last names in my home town had at least six syllables and a dozen vowels, so maybe I’m just used to it), is proud of his Greek heritage.
  • Helppi is from Littoinen, Finland, and really lives there: he looked like no one in his family had been exposed to the sun’s rays for three generations.

OK, they actually did play a poker tournament today, so I guess we should get into it. We started play with 34 minutes left in a 60 minute round, $500 antes, and $1,500-3,000 blinds. Ten-handed, that left $9,500 available in dead money, not that anyone would ever actually try to STEAL a pot in no-limit hold’em.

The event’s fifth hand proved noticeable for two reasons. First, the short-chipped Tsiprailidis needed to make a move and did, going all-in for his remaining 17k. Rogowski looked like he was going to be the sheriff, but instead of a raise to shut out others, he just called. Did that mean he wanted someone else along for the ride?

Kathy Liebert must have either held a pretty big hand or a pretty bad sense of smell, because she didn’t sniff the trap and called. The flop came Qh-8c-Kh, Liebert checked, Rogowski bet 40k, and Liebert let her hand go. Now with only two players in, we got to see the hands: 8d-6d for Tsiprailidis, but A-A for Rogowski, and the Js-7h finish sent Tsiprailidis out 10th.

This wasn’t the last time today that someone would get sneaking with aces, and whether it would work out as well the others, well, we’ll see.

Before the 28th hand, the remaining minutes had run on the initial round, and we shifted to 90 minute final table rounds, with the antes remaining at $500, and the blinds moving to $2,000-4,000.


By the way, I got a few emails that didn’t like my comments about the new very slow blind structure, so I’ll make two more remarks here and be done with it for the tournament, although I may occasionally refer to percentage increases.

First, there’s no question that the new, more slowly increasing blind structure is a vast improvement on the old structure, which usually saw blinds increasing in jumps of 50%, 66%, or even 100%; if forced to pick between one and the other, I’d take the new one in a heartbeat. The directors deserve credit for the improvement, but there’s no reason why we have to pick one or the other, and there’s still room for some fine-tuning.

I think downshifting from the old huge jumps to the new ones of 20% (sometimes considerably less when you take non-shifting antes into account) and 25% (occasionally more when you take shifting antes into account) goes too far, It will cause too many players to go to sleep not knowing if they’ve made a final table, and will place a premium on stamina that may or may not be appropriate.

Increases that are at least 33% (but not much more) would still give the players plenty of time to play, and might take a bit of the “shootout” pressure off the tournament’s third level, when currently you’d better get lucky or go home. End of editorial.

On that 28th hand, Liebert brought it in for a raise to 20k, Van Horn moved in, and Liebert called. Q-Q for Van Horn, A-K for Liebert, not merely the “classic confrontation” but also déjà vu for Liebert, who busted out of the WPT Championship Event at the Bicycle Casino in the same situation. She whiffed again here, too, and exited ninth.

Over the next 40 hands or so, the chips continued to shift to the dealer’s right, with my estimate at

Sexton, 50k
Rogowski, 95k
Calvert, 50k
Meehan, 65k
Esfandiari, 60k
Regimbol, 120k
Van Horn, 160k
Helppi, 215k

Remember this shift, because the boat rocks back to the left a bit later. For the moment, the players on the left were playing fairly tightly, especially Sexton. Van Horn was grabbing chips with a lot of re-raises, and Helppi was leaving a lot of people feeling Helppiless, because he was racking and stacking quickly with a lot of first raises that no one wanted to challenge.

These raises added up, because eight-handed, there was 10k in dead money for the taking (4k in antes and 6k in blinds), and when the blinds increased to $2,500-5,000 after hand #77 (same $500 antes, which meant that if you counted the antes the total dead money increased only to $11,500, an 11.5% increase), there was even more dead money available for theft.

Sexton finally got tired of Helppi’s constant pressure on hand #86, so when the Finn made it 15k from the small blind, Sexton moved all-in for a little over twice that figure. Helppi called and turned over J-7; Sexton turned over A-J and doubled through. “So that’s what you’ve been raising with,” said Sexton, one of the few willing to bell the cat.

A strike-back at Helppi finally made the tournament a bit more interesting, but the next hand really turned the place on its ear (actually, another part of the head, but we’ll get to that in a moment).

Helppi wasn’t going to let one little raise stop his constant thievery, and raised the hand to 15k again. Rogowski was obviously playing in one of his first-ever tournaments. He had already been admonished for an “it’s just not done” move when he showed the entire table the two cards he was folding, even when there were still five people left to act in a hand.


Here he pulled a different kind of stunt – one that sent so many jaws crashing to the floor in utter disbelief that a mandiblar surgical specialist passing out cards and collecting patients could have cashed for more than first place money in the tournament.

The scene offered yet more proof that a talented “local hero” should play some small tournaments before coming to the WSOP. It’s not a matter of snobbery. At this level you’re supposed to know the rules.

Rogowski leapt from his chair, ran behind the dealer, and started whispering in Helppi’s ear – saying, apparently, that he was going to raise him 30k. The uproar would have been even more deafening, but with all those jaws dropped in disbelief, it was hard to make much noise.

Even though it was obvious that he’d pulled the stunt merely from total ignorance of tournament protocol rather than some evil plan or angle shot, he was sternly warned that the next such offense would produce a 20-minute penalty. I thought he got off light; given his earlier miscues, I would have given him a penalty immediately.

Helppi didn’t get upset; he just moved all-in, and Rogowski called. Q-Q for Rogowski, Ac-Kc for Helppi, and when a king hit the flop, Rogowski didn’t need a 20-minute penalty; he got a tournament penalty, because he had busted out, and had pumped up Helppi even further in the process.

Six hands later, someone else decided to prove what we all knew, that Helppi couldn’t possibly have strong hands each time he raised, and when that mighty raising arm went forward with another 15k, Calvert raised all-in with his short stack. It was only another 20.5k, so Helppi was getting a reasonable calling price, and did.

He probably felt sick when he turned over his 10-8 and saw that it was up against 10-10: he was an 8-1 underdog. Calvert must have been sick when he saw the J-9-9 flop, giving Helppi an open-end straight draw: now he wasn’t even 7-3 to win and only 6-4 to win or split. Calvert dodged the turn and river, though, and more than doubled his 35.5 starting stack.


Another short-stacked player, Jim Meeham, with whom I’d long ago become friends via emails generated from RGP posts and then meetings in person, got healthier two hands later. With everyone folding around to the his small blind, he limped in for the required 2k, and Esfandiari, another friend ever since he had started showing me some of his excellent magic tricks (his business card calls him the “007 Magician,” and the Poker Pundit wonders how someone would have the audacity to invent an easily memorable professional nickname) pulled a trick he had been using quite a bit in recent hands: he pushed all-in.

Those power all-in moves work nicely for collecting small pots when no one else has a big hand, but if you use it too often, someone will find a way to use it against you. Meeham called instantly and everyone knew that meant he’d set a trap. Sure enough, Ah-7h for 007, but it was Meeham who’d pulled the Bond-like stunt as he turned over A-K. The board missed everyone, and Meeham more than doubled HIS 35k stack.

This didn’t keep Esfandiari from pulling the same all-in move two hands later, this time after Regimbol had invested 16k in a preflop call and 10k while betting out into a 4-Q-7 board, but this time it worked and 007 had almost recovered the chips he’d lost to Meehan. Magicians don’t Only Live Twice.

Even though Helppi had been caught “running without the ball” as Amarillo Slim would say, twice in a short stretch, he raised it again a couple of hands later and this time Sexton came back at him again, all-in for 22k more. Sighing and saying “I always have too much in there” (to fold to a relatively small raise when he has a decent chance of having two live cards), he called and turned over another 10-8!

Sexton showed K-Qs; he had the right idea and had made the right move, but it turned out that Helppi was not only getting the right pot odds (as a 2-1 underdog), he was to get the right flop. An eight was the first card off. World Poker Tour announcer Sexton, who has a long and distinguished history of cashes at the WSOP, although most of them are low money cashes, save for his 1989 bracelet, had to settle for another low money cash here, $18,920.


It must feel strange to have cashed at the Series about 25 times and to trail one-time casher Robert Varkonyi by more than a 3-1 margin in total career WSOP winnings, but that’s tournament poker: the money goes to the top spots, even in the Big One, where Sexton has cashed six times. It’s still a record to be proud of and one that many would like to be able to claim.

Esfandiari had been caught running a couple more naked bluffs in the last dozen hands, so it wasn’t surprising that Regimbol pushed his 15k raise out of the pot with an all-in move of his own on hand #109. Esfandiari, who really has a LOT of excellent tricks when working at his trade, started looking more and more like he’d hit a “one-trick pony” stage when he moved all-in to an unraised pot on #111, winning without contention, and then he tried it again ten hands later, this time after Helppi had opened for a raise to 15k.

This move wasn’t so shocking, given all the trashy hands Helppi had been caught with, but the problem was that Helppi had gone ahead and called when the re-raises weren’t huge, and Esfandiari’s wasn’t huge (only another 31.5k) and neither was his hand, Jh-9h. “Even” Helppi had more, Ah-8h, leaving Esfandiari in trouble and doubly so when the flop came Ks-7c-Kd.

The 9s hit the turn, though, and Esfandiari shouted “One time in my life, yes!” and climbed back into the game with a stack just over 100k. I guess if ever there was a day when a magician should be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat, it would be Easter Sunday.


Just before the dinner break, Calvert moved his small (39k) stack all-in, and Regimbol sensed desperation and called from the small blind. His senses were right, Q-10 for Calvert and A-J for Regimbol, but as both Tony Ma and I found out at the WPT celebrity invitational, A-J isn’t a huge favorite over anything except a weaker ace. A ten hit both the flop and the river, and at the break they took the $500 chips off the table, and the chip count was

Calvert, 89k
Meehan, 225k
Esfandiari, 80k
Regimbol, 74k
Van Horn, 102k
Helppi, 260k

This is when the chips started adding to 830k, so this is when the earlier-mentioned error must have occurred.

The hour-long dinner break started after hand #128, and my ailing back and I took an even longer break, with Max Shapiro kindly keeping notes for me until I could get vertical again. I missed some exciting stuff, but Max’s notes kept all of us informed.

On the first hand after the break, with the antes now $1,000 and the blinds $3,000-6,000 (because of the antes, a significant jump: the six-way dead money jumped from $10,500 to $15,000), Regimbol made a play for the dead money by shoving all-in with As-9s, but Helppi found Ac-Qs in the small blind and called.

This time the rabbit waited until the river to jump out, instead of the turn: K-10-2-7-9, and Regimbol kept his lone Canadian contingent alive, and making a dent in Helppi’s power move stack in the process. Helppi had acquired almost all of his chips by raising, not by calling, and even though his call turned out to be right here, the cards didn’t cooperate.


Regimbol moved his newly strengthened stack all-in again two hands later, and once again Helppi engaged, moving all-in rather than just calling the 150k bet, probably in an attempt to discourage hitchhikers, and it seemed to work, because Meehan thought for a while before giving up with a line he used about eight times today, “I already know I’m going to fold, why am I wasting everyone’s time?”

Regimbol turned over pocket nines, and Helppi AhKh. This time the call was turned out to be fine if you wanted to gamble – the nines are a small favorite, but the dead money made it a coin flip – and the cards made it correct when an ace hit the turn and sent Regimbol out sixth. Helppi was once again pumped way up in chips.

On the very next hand (I SAID I missed some exciting stuff), Esfandiari used his all-in move again, this time from the small blind, and Juha “I never saw a call I didn’t like” Helppi called it from the big blind.

Esfandiari turned over Ad-3d, Helppi Kd-10d, and not only did a king come right off on the flop, so did two diamonds, which meant that a third one would leave Esfandiari with no outs. The board finished a rather pedestrian 5c-7h, though, Esfandiari was out fifth, and Helppi’s stack was starting to dent the table at around 400k.


It took four hands for some of the chips to start leaking through the dent. Helppi opened for a 20k raise, Calvert moved all-in, and Robert Varkonyi, er, I mean Helppi, called with Qd-10d. Calvert turned over As-9h, caught a nine on the flop and an ace on the turn, and he’d doubled through Helppi, whose stack was now back just about where it was on the break, even though he’d been involved in four big hands out of eight played.

Ten hands later, on #146. Calvert got a little fancy with his new life. He limped in with what turned out to be pocket aces, checked behind Helppi on the A-10-8 flop and also the six on the turn, and when a nine hit the river, Helppi finally made the bet Calvert had been looking for, even if it was smaller than he wanted: 10k. Calvert, now afraid of a straight, raised back only 20k, and Helppi just called even though he HAD a straight with his 4-7, fearing the bigger straight that a J-7 or J-Q could have made.

Limping with aces is one thing, but giving your opponent two more free chances to make something is another, especially with a reasonably coordinated board, and given that there were multiple potential straight draws on the flop and even more on the turn, Calvert just waited too long. It’s a shame to “waste” aces and even more to waste a set of them, but it’s an even bigger shame to wind up losing the pot with them!

Meanwhile, that leak of Helppi’s started turning into something they had to call all ship’s hands to bail and to the pumps only four hands later. Van Horn opened for 20k on the button, and given that we project our own values and style of play onto others (in this case, the axiom is that bluffers suspect others of bluffing), Helppi moved all-in from the small blind.


Van Horn called quickly with Q-Q, and Helppi could produce only A-6. The board came K-5-5-2-2, and Van Horn collected 122k from The Amazing Shifting Stack of Juha Helppi (I’ve been hanging around with too many magicians, I guess).

Another ten hands later, it was Helppi who found the pocket queens, and he opened for 20k. You give this much action, you’re going to get a lot of action, and Meehan provided it, moving all-in for his 119k. Juha called, and Meehan turned over Ks-Jh. Nope, it wasn’t a king: the board came As-9s-8?-7s-3s, and the running spades sent Meehan racing past Helppi’s rapidly sinking ship. He hadn’t been able to beat two queens or to win with two queens, and after a few minor engagements, it was anyone’s race, with Max’s estimate:

Calvert, 200k
Meehan, 185k
Van Horn, 265k
Helppi, 190k

I’m almost sure that I heard once that if you give action you get action. One hand after this chip count (#166), Helppi opened for 20k, Meehan moved all-in from the big blind, and Helppi called with what I think is one of the worst “non-desperation” calling hands in no-limit, A-J (in this case suited, but that doesn’t often help much heads up).

Meehan had A-Q, nothing higher than an eight ever hit the board, and when they cleared away the wreckage, it turned out that Helppi, who had owned this table lock, stock and barrel only 21 hands earlier, had 2k left. They went in on the next hand (1k was an ante: there are almost no starting hands that wouldn’t justify the pot odds for the other chip), appropriately enough an eighty six, which Meehan’s A-4 and two pair finished him off just as what was left of my back and I returned to the action.


Even though he unraveled right when the tournament was there for the taking, I think we’ll see the young Helppi again. He just missed the final table in the opening $2,000 limit hold’em event (he finished 13th) and here he was right back again. When he adds a little seasoning to that good aggressive style, he’ll be a threat in any tournament.

The remaining contenders decided to talk deal, and it was quite a talk – almost a half hour. This gave us time for an exact chip count:

Calvert, 193k
Meehan, 391k
Van Horn, 246k

After all the negotiation, the contenders finally decided on a deal whose details weren’t revealed, save for the fact that they left $30,000 in play ($20,000 for the winner and $10,000 for the runner up).

As often happens right after a deal, the relative lack of money pressure caused the players to loosen up a bit. Fourteen hands later we hit the regularly scheduled break, but given the long break the players had just taken on their own, they played on through, with the antes remaining 1k and the blinds moving to $4,000-8,000.

Because a lot of the air goes out of the balloon after a deal, I’m not going to report quite as much detail, although aside from the slight loosening up, I still felt that each player fought as hard as he had throughout the day.

Van Horn had lost some ground via two medium sized pots by the time we reached hand #198. Meehan opened for 30k from the small blind, and Van Horn moved all-in.


As had been his wont for much of the day, Meehan stood up and paced a bit when facing a big decision (just six hands earlier, when Van Horn had moved in the same way, over an initial 30k bet, Meehan had stood and rather comically said “Mother of God!”…you have to either know Jim or have been there to know there was no blasphemous intent involved, just humor). Finally, he decided to call with pocket nines, while an unhappy Van Horn turned over As-8s.

The flop was harmless enough, 3s-7h-10h, but the turned 6s caused all kinds of consternation, as Van Horn was suddenly live not just to an ace but also any spade for a flush and a nine for a straight.

The harmless 3c hit the river, and after 198 hands, we were heads up, where the small blind goes on the button (SBB) and acts first before the flop and second after the flop.

Meehan retained a lead of roughly 100k for much of the early going, as the two duelers tested each other’s steel. Hand #222 changed the action in an odd way.

Calvert limped in from the SBB, and we looked at a flop of 2c-6h-9d. Both players checked. The 6d hit the turn, Meehan bet 22k (for some odd reason a bet each had adopted as the standard opening bet or raise), and Calvert called. The Ac hit the river, Meehan bet 32k, Calvert called again, and Meehan mucked when Calvert turned over pocket kings, a hand with which Calvert had never put in a single bet or raise, but had only checked or called the whole way.


Given that Calvert had also been the guy who had super-slowplayed his aces and set of aces (finally losing with them), this dramatic underplay seemed a second refrain of a song no one had liked from the start. Calvert won a little money on the hand, but likely could have won more.

Instead of kicking himself, though, Calvert seemed to draw strength from what he saw as a mistake, and started playing the best poker he had played all day long. Perhaps some of it was due to a confused Meehan, who now could hardly be blamed for never knowing where Calvert “was” on a hand, but I believe Calvert just recognized his passivity for what it was and decided to do something about it, because he started taking the initiative and made as steady an incremental progress as I’ve seen in quite a while.

He just seemed to take over the whole match, as his stack gained ground hand after hand, and by hand #253, had assumed a serious lead, roughly 530k-300k, without ever winning any big hands.

He lost some ground on #254, when he opened for a raise to 22k, got called, and looked at a flop of As-7s-Ad, where each player checked. The Kd hit the turn, and Meehan bet out for 32k with Calvert calling. The 10s hit the river, Meehan led out for 48k, and Calvert called instantly with what was probably a weak ace.

Meehan turned over 6s-3s for a flush, and had virtually evened the match.

Calvert didn’t let the rivered spade change his tempo, and he forged back into the lead. By the time we hit the break at hand #272, he led 472k-358k. The antes increased to 2k, and the blinds to $5,000-10,000.


Five hands into the new level, Calvert (and his increasingly enthusiastic Australian supporters) seemed to have it done and won. He opened for 25k from the SBB, and Meehan called. The flop came 8s-Qs-6s, Meehan checked, Calvert bet 40k, and Meehan moved in. Calvert called instantly and turned over Qh-6d, two pair. Meehan took a bit of a breath as he turned over a big hand of his own, Ks-8h.

Calvert had the lead with his two pair, but Meehan was live to any spade, any eight, or any king. This hand is a good example of why using the “one out equals 2% equity” formula doesn’t work so well when the number of outs is large and there are two cards to come rather than one. Fourteen outs twice would yield 56% equity under that formula, but Meehan had only about 47%. Still, Meehan was only a slight underdog, but the equities swung heavily in Calvert’s favor when a black, the 2d, hit the turn.

Fourteen cards would win for Meehan, giving him a substantial chip lead, but the remaining 30 would give Calvert the crown.

The seven of spades hit the river to give Meehan new life and to send Calvert’s friends into a robust anguish. Calvert himself seemed to reel a bit, but after 30 seconds of feeling sorry for himself, seemed to forget about it and play on with his 140k and spirit intact.

Meehan had 590k. It wasn’t going to be easy. Winning a World Series bracelet rarely is.


Although Calvert didn’t have the ammunition to push Meehan around that he’d had earlier, he stuck to the aggressive game plan, and by hand #312 had gradually worked his chips back up to about 340k.

I don’t know what happened after that. Maybe Calvert had been catching a lot of cards, and suddenly stopped. Maybe Calvert lost a little focus. Maybe Meehan used the experience of his many years facing tough competition in medium and high stakes games of all shapes and description, including the shorthanded variety. I do know that something changed. A new pattern emerged, one where Calvert checked too many turns and then yielded to too many bets on the river.

Suddenly Jim Meehan was playing like the Jim Meehan I’d expected all along – not merely the Harry Anderson (the magician and comedian from Saturday Night Live and Night Court) look and jokes, but also the steely play those who know him would have expected.

Calvert’s stack started shrinking much as it had grown: slowly and incrementally. He fell to 120k and looked dead on hand #344, when Meehan opened for 25k, Meehan moved in, and Calvert called with Ks-10s, facing Meehan’s Ac-Ks. The flop came 5h-10c-9d, though, and although it’s lovely to face only one undercard before the flop, if you opponent hits it, suddenly hitting your own undercard doesn’t help: it was going to take an ace to save Meehan, and neither the 7h nor Qh qualified.

This time it was Calvert who had lucked out, although it still wasn’t true compensation for the 7s whose absence would have ended the match.


Seven hands later, Calvert had worked his way back near 300k when he opened for 30k. Meehan moved all-in, hugely overbetting the pot, and the reverse psychology worked, with a little cooperation from a strong starting hand from Calvert, who turned over two jacks.

Meehan turned over two kings, the same hand whose misplay seemed to have galvanized Calvert earlier. Galvanizing doesn’t do any good if you can’t catch up, though, and even though the Qd-10d-8h flop gave Calvert outs not only to a jack but also to a nine, the final two cards were an eight and a deuce, and Jim Meehan had his first WSOP bracelet.

It had taken 198 hands to eliminate eight players, and 153 to eliminate the ninth in what was one of the better heads-up matches we’ve seen for a while here.

Guy Calvert, the Australian who has worked the last five years in New York City as a financial advisor specializing in hedge funds, was disappointed but not crushed, especially with his friends shaking him and yelling, “Guy, you just won a hundred and forty thousand bucks!”

When the shaking stopped, I asked him if the money meant as much to him as his friend seemed to think, and the man in the blue jeans, blue button down shirt and blue cap didn’t sound very blue.

“The money’s nice,” he said. “It’s not going to completely change my life, but it certainly helps. I think the big thing is just how exciting it all was, to do this well against this many great players. I’ve been playing a lot of tournaments the last year or two, but with nothing like this much success – one final table at the Foxwood’s World Poker Finals, and I did make it to Day Three of the Big One here last year, but even that didn’t feel this exciting.”


Calvert isn’t, nor is likely to become, a poker bum. He’s got to leave tomorrow to get back to work, and he’s not even sure if he can work out the time away from his office to get back here for the Big One. Regardless, the man from Down Under will take away a lot of cash and a lot of memories.

As for Jim Meeham, I can’t imagine this changing my friend’s rather, um, “distinctive” personality, but I am left to imagine it, because by the time they were finished with the various photos and financial matters, it was well after one in the morning, and he wanted to carry his leather satchel of money (truly completing the Harry Anderson look) over to the Four Queens, get it into his safe deposit box, and get somewhere he could have a smoke. I didn’t have the time or strength to follow him any further. I’m pretty sure he’ll remain the same guy, the one who is only half joking when he kids about his law practice basically being a search for truth, justice, and honesty.

I can’t say I’m glad he has the habit, but I imagine that victory smoke will have tasted pretty good, and it was fitting that he won with two kings, because both of our finalists earned that title.

Final Official Results, $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em
407 Entries, Prize Pool $757,020

1. “Minneapolis” Jim Meehan, $280,100
2. Guy Calvert, $143,840
3. Dr. Bruce Van Horn, $71,920
4. Juha Helppi, $45,420
5. Antonio “007 Magician” Esfandiari, $34,060
6. Percy Regimbol, $26,500
7. Mike Sexton, $18,920
8. Steve Rogowski, $15,140
9. Kathy Liebert, $12,160
10. “Syracuse” Chris Tsiprailidis, $9,080

11th-12th, $9,080 each: Erik Seidel, Mike Vatan.
13th-15th, $7,560 each: Don Barton, Jose Rosencrantz, Lee Markholt.
16th-18th, $6,060 each: Brent Carter, John Spadavecchia, Richard Schwartz.
19th-27th, $4,540 each: Hylton Socher, Jeff Norman, Mel Weiner, Nhut Tran, Mohammed Fathipour, “SK,” Jeff Shulman, Glenn Parker, Kenna James.

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